Well, well, well, that was enlightening. I talked to David Cheakas, the sole proprietor and builder at Southwest Frameworks over the phone and rather than make any pronouncements over the phone he said he’d have to see the bike. This is a good sign. So I drive across town to his shop. Well, actually his garage behind his house, but let me tell you, it was a fairly impressive workshop. The guy’s been in business almost 20 years and gets most of his business from out-of-state and overseas. The guy was a blast to talk to, he really loves his work.
Oh, the bike. I told him the whole backstory and he said that the muffler shop welding idea wouldn’t have been a bad idea on the old old steel bikes from back in the day, but with alloys that’s a really bad idea. Then he looked at my bike and saw that it’s a Reynolds 853 alloy and proceded to give me the run-down on why that alloy couldn’t simply be welded. In fact, while it rides great, he said that that alloy is probably the most difficult alloy to deal with and he didn’t work with it any more.
So what about replacing the down-tube? Well, he took a good close look at the problem. It turns out the crack isn’t just on the down-tube but goes around the top of the bottom bracket to the back-tube. So all of that would have to be replaced. Add to that the unique frame geometry of the old GT road bikes and he said it would cost as much to fix it as to simply build a new frame. Ouchie. He was really apologetic about it, and said it was just too impractical to fix. I got the distinct impression that he really really hated working with that particular alloy.
He says he could build a new frame for me in 2-3 weeks, depending on backlog and squeezing in a spot. That may turn out to be a good idea.
But for now I want something to ride tonight, plus I’m curious as to the ride of the new carbon fiber bikes. So I’ve rented an old Trek 5200 for the evening to see how it goes. It’s actually a size too big for me, but I’ll take it easy just to see how it rides, since I’m not planning on buying this particular model anyway.
PS – That was a great find, Dag Otto. I owe you a beer sometime. Give me a holler if you’re headed to the Hotter’n’Hell.